About the Field

Urban and regional planning is a dynamic field that requires innovative solutions from committed and thoughtful individuals. Historically, it emerged out of two key concerns: the provision of urban infrastructure and the initiation of social reform. Today, the underlying focus on community well-being continues. Urban and regional planning has broadened to include the development, implementation, and evaluation of a wide range of policies.

Urban and regional planners are specifically concerned with:

  • The use of land in the city, suburbs, and in the rural areas, and particularly with the transition from one use to another
  • Potentially adverse impacts of human activities on a limited physical environment and the possible mitigation of those impacts
  • The design of the city and the surrounding region so as to facilitate the activities in which people need and desire to engage
  • Settlement systems and the location of human activities in urban and regional space
  • Identification of social needs and the design and provision of services and facilities to meet those needs
  • The distribution of resources, benefits and costs among people
  • The anticipation of change and its impact on how people do and can live
  • Participation of citizens in planning processes which affect their future
  • The way that choices are made, decisions implemented and actions evaluated, and the means by which those processes can be improved in urban and regional areas

The Planning Profession

The problems faced by cities, counties and specific populations today demand innovative solutions from committed and thoughtful planners. Practitioners assist communities in planning for growth and change. They look at existing conditions and challenges, and help develop a vision of what a community could look like in the future. Professional planners help to address issues such as transportation, housing, social services, economic development, environmental and natural resources, globalization and disaster management.